“Wives must submit to their husbands” is a biblical teaching many still adhere to ’til this day, but for most it’s an archaic way of living. In earlier times, when a woman had no voice and little control over what she wanted to do with her life, submission was the only way to live. Being a child bearer, raising the children and keeping house were the common roles for the woman. As time progressed, women claimed their independence and the right to hold careers and positions in society long secured by men.
Independence and self-sufficiency have come along with the rise of the educated, employed Black woman, but a common causality of said independence has often been the romantic relationship. (See Being Mary Jane.) Time and again, we hear of successful Black women who just can’t seem to remain as victorious in their romantic relationships as they are in business, and many of these women are left wondering how to create a healthy balance.
This issue seems to be one that will deepen as we move further into the millennium. More Black women are choosing to leave the workforce and go into business for themselves, which frees them from the clutches of the rat race but leaves many who are currently in the dating pool scrambling to find a balance between work and romance.
According to a recent study published by Fortune, the number of African-American female entrepreneurs increased by 322% between1997 and 2015, 1.5 times the national average. And the numbers aren’t slowing down. But a woman in business for herself doesn’t have to sacrifice her lovelife in order to be successful; it simply requires balance. And for the man who loves a strong Black woman, his focus must also be tuned into perfecting this balancing act.
But how does a couple go about handling this nonconventional relationship? I needed answers to help strong-willed women who are currently seeking companionship, and to guide men who are currently in relationships with independent women. So I hopped on the phone and recruited the real life expertise of a man who’s experienced the ups and downs of said dynamic.
I dialed Safaree Samuels, the man who has helped curate the most successful female hip-hop artist to date. And while his fingerprints have been intertwined with the famous “Pinkprint,” he placed his individual success on the backburner for 10 years supporting his significant other on her journey towards success.
“You have to know who you are with and what you are willing to put up with,” Samuels stated referring to the strong willed woman. “For me, support comes naturally. So if I have a ‘connect’ or can make a phone call to help someone out, I will in a heartbeat. The same gesture applies to whoever I’m dating. Growing up, I wanted to be an MC. But I put my dreams aside to play the role of the supportive boyfriend.”
I was shocked. To be this self sacrificing is a true display of love, but it’s also a trait that isn’t commonly spotlighted from the male perspective. We hear stories of women sacrificing their dreams to support their husbands often. It’s refreshing to hear about men who’ve settled into their supportive positions in this role reversal. Giving up one’s dreams to support another takes humility, and when paired up with a woman who has her mind made up about her desires and dreams, it means a man must submit to her wishes.
“To be a submissive man, you have to have a submissive bone in your body,” Samuels said. “The relationship isn’t going to work out for the man who has a short fuse or can’t handle being told what to do. A lot of men look for women they can mold into what will fit into their lives, but you can’t do that with a strong-minded woman. If you’re going to be with her, you have to be okay with her running the show at times.”
The Black man often associates the word “submissive” with weakness, leading many to become reluctant playing second fiddle to their significant others. But in the case of acting as support to a leading lady, being submissive is far from being feeble.
“A man is a second pair of eyes giving a woman feedback on her ideas and the male perspective,” Samuels said. “We are there to say ‘yes, this is a good idea’ or ‘no, this may not work.’ We can see things that she may not be able to see. [Supportive men] have your back.” The challenge many men who are in the “submissive” role face is creating balance, especially when working alongside their significant others in a working partnership.
“Sometimes a strong woman doesn’t know the difference between her man and an employee, especially when mixing business and pleasure. She has to know how to turn it off when it’s time to be the girlfriend or the wife,” Samuels said. He went on to share his advice for strong-willed women who have the desire to establish balance and harmony within their romantic relationships: “Respect is major in this type of relationship, so don’t just talk to your man any kind of way,” he stated. “Let a man be a man in terms of respecting his opinion and what he has to say. He also has insight and things to add to your vision.”
Samuels also stresses the importance of women knowing when to switch from boss mode to wifey mode. “You have to know when to turn it off and be affectionate. Your man doesn’t want to feel bossed around the bedroom. He wants to feel loved, respected and desired.” For the woman who has a difficult time knowing how to compartmentalize, Safaree suggests counseling as a solution.
“Black people typically have a stigma against seeing a counselor or a therapist, but these people are here to help out in situations that one can’t handle alone,” he says. “If you need help with establishing that balance you desire, please seek out help.” For the man who’s currently in a relationship with a woman who calls the shots in business and in bed, Samuels has a few pieces of advice on how to make it work.
“Communication is key,” he advises. “If you feel some type of way about something, speak up. Don’t just let those things sit and spiral out of control. Set boundaries and have a conversation with your significant other and let her know what you will and will not tolerate.” Samuels suggests men draw a line for how they expect to be treated in public and within the household. “You can have a conversation and say, ‘It’s okay for you to talk to me this way at home, but in public this isn’t going to fly.’ Put those rules and boundaries into place. And if you have trouble with getting your message across to her, please seek out a mediator or a counselor that can help you do so.”
For a relationship on the rocks that counseling hasn’t seemed to fix, Samuels suggests a good old-fashioned life lesson.
“Sometimes women feel they have it all figured out and they won’t take any other way as law in their lives. In this case, you have to let her learn on her own if she is too headstrong. Sometimes as a man, you just have to walk away with your dignity and your self-respect.”
Safaree Samuels admits that in the past he hasn’t always been great at establishing boundaries, but within his new relationship, he plans to lay down his limits early on. “Once you’ve been the supportive man, sometimes the only way to set boundaries is to let her do what she wants and learn on her own by being alone. There are power couples that work, but it takes great balance on both ends.”
You can follow Safaree Samuels on Instagram @iamsafaree.
Glamazon Tyomi is a freelance writer, model and sex educator with a deeply rooted passion for spreading the message of sex positivity and encouraging the masses to embrace their sexuality. Her website, www.glamerotica101.com, reaches internationally as a source for advice and information for the sexually active/curious. Follow her on Twitter at @glamazontyomi.